Lauder Railway Station building returns to Otago

By Jono Edwards

The tracks might be gone, but a 112-year-old train station building has returned home.

The Lauder Railway Station building was hauled 400m by crane and truck from a private Lauder property and placed beside the Otago Central Rail Trail yesterday.

Locals gathered to watch its move to where the railway line from Middlemarch to Clyde once passed through.

It is about 100m from its original location so as to not block the view of Lauder's Stationside Cafe from the trail.

The building previously lay there from 1904 to 1985, until it was sold to a Lauder resident when the station shut down.

Lauder Beautification Society chairman Ralph Milne said the project let rail trail travellers see the area's history.

The group raised about $120,000 through grants and community fundraisers for the move and for restoration.

Broken timber will be replaced, the building repainted, and it will be filled with memorabilia about the area for visitors to view.

Society member Earl Harrex said carpenters would start work soon and work for a Christmas restoration date.

The project was discussed about six years ago, but there was "a lot of bureaucracy" to traverse, he said. In 2013, current owners of the land the station was on, Bruce and Esme Macdonald, gave the building back to the community.

Mrs Macdonald said for the past 30 years it was "just sitting there, waiting for a purpose".

It was "now or never" to restore the building before it further decayed, she said.

"If I was put out in the rain and the snow for 30 years I probably wouldn't be looking too great either," she said.

Lauder resident Keith Naylor remembered visiting the building on his way home from school in the 1940s.

"I used to ride up to the back window on horseback and a man would hand me the mail."

The 13m x 4m building weighed about 11 tonnes.

Project manager Dean Booth said his team underestimated the weight of the building so had to move the crane closer to carry it.

"A job like this takes a lot of planning."

- Otago Daily Times

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